A fringe exhibition, as part of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale, In the Process of Healing, is still on exhibition in the Ballarat Welcome Centre (former Sacred Heart convent), 145 Victoria Street, Ballarat East, until September 17. Ballarat Artist Aldona Kmiec has created a dramatic and immersive installation, combining space, photography and sound.
“This exhibition is mainly an opportunity for catharsis and healing, a space for conversations about trauma resulting from displacement, suicide and healing processes that follow,” Aldona explained.
“My vision is to give hope. To document the invisible lives, drowned by society’s attempts to maintain normalcy through keeping their eyes shut, pretending that lives don’t exist, referring to them as numbers.” In the Process of Healing is a site-specific photo-installation, an immersive experience with sound and space in two rooms: the room with a ‘Chair of Nails’ and the main hall with semi-transparent floating images on fabric.
The exhibition attempts to remove the stigma around trauma and normalise difficult conversations about suicide and abuse.
Aldona Kmiec is a photographic artist of Polish origin, living and working in Ballarat.
She is a former Multicultural Ambassador and has worked with many local community organisations including Uniting Care Under the Floorboards project in 2013.
This exhibition, she says, is a lifetime of memories – hers and other peoples’ from conversations. “It’s been a long journey,” Aldona says of her journey from Poland to Australia and her subsequent work. “I studied photography in London and had other careers before I decided this was going to be my thing,” she said.
“When I moved to Ballarat in 2010 I set up my own freelance business and started doing a lot of volunteering because I didn’t know anyone in town.” In the Process of Healing is Aldona’s first project installation with sound and in a space that is specifically designed to hold this exhibition. “There are a lot of themes in this exhibition – I have friends, a refugee family, and the theme is water, there is a lot of connection of how they came to Australia and also the water is a symbol of healing and moving on,” she said. “I specifically chose the convent because it talks about healing from other traumatic experiences that people have been through and that is what the little rivers are about, so when you enter the small room you listen for 6 minutes to the soundtrack – there are church bells, dropping water and some somber music and then you come out of it and go through the light and warmth and seeing a different display that makes you heal as you walk back. It’s a journey.” This weekend is your last chance to view ‘In the Process of Healing’ as the 2017 Ballarat International Foto Biennale wraps up. “I have been happy with the exhibition so far,” Aldona said.
“Not many people know this building and it would be good to see more people come through – this is the first time this building has been opened for an exhibition during the Foto Biennale.”